Vacant since July 2014, the Ohio National Guard Armory building owned by the city of Urbana soon will be occupied once again.
Director of Administration Kerry Brugger informed City Council on Tuesday that the city signed a four-year lease agreement, effective March 1, with Noreast Transport, 501 W. Church St., Urbana.
The lease agreement, Brugger added, includes an option for the trucking business to purchase the building after the lease expires.
Noreast Transport will pay $2,000 a month to lease the armory and will assume all operating expenses and general maintenance costs as part of the deal. The motor pool building located behind the armory isn’t part of the lease agreement.
Brugger said Dave Bacher, president of Noreast Transport, has yet to finalize plans as to how the facility will be used.
The city-owned property was put up for public bid late last year, but no bids were received. It was last used as an educational facility by Ohio Hi-Point Career Center in Bellefontaine, which moved out in 2014 after five years in Urbana.
In a related matter, council approved a $8,650 purchase order to Mark Neer Restoration for the installation of a new membrane on the upper roof of the armory.
Brugger said the city recently discovered leaks in the roof and an insurance adjuster said the leaks appear to have been caused by a hail storm last year that punctured areas of the roof membrane.
After filing an insurance claim through the Public Entities Pool of Ohio, the city’s net cost for the roof repair will be $1,000.
Officials take aim at upcoming state budget
During Tuesday’s meeting, council passed on first reading a resolution “strongly opposing the State of Ohio Governor’s proposed 2018-2019 budget.”
Prior to the vote, Brugger, Mayor Bill Bean and Finance Director Chris Boettcher all spoke against the proposed budget, specifically the portion relating to municipal income tax.
“Basically, what the governor wants to do is centralize tax collection,” Bean said. “He wants Columbus, basically, to collect our income tax and then they will send us back the money.”
Bean added various area mayors are concerned with the governor’s direction and that the Ohio Municipal League and state Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) are both “totally against it.”
“At this point, I don’t know what the legislators are going to do, but it seems like there isn’t a city out there that’s looking forward to this passing,” Bean said.
Boettcher said the proposed legislation benefits one segment in particular – business owners.
“It’s more for the businesses so that businesses don’t have to file a separate income tax form in each municipality they do business,” she said. “They want everything to go to the Ohio Business Gateway, which is the state’s online tax reporting that’s available for local businesses.”
It’s Boettcher’s belief that once the tax forms reach the gateway, the state is supposedly going to go through and audit all the tax returns.
“I doubt that they will be able to audit 100 percent of the tax returns like we do in our tax office here locally,” she said. “I’ve never had anybody complain that they had to file taxes in multiple cities. The businesses understand that it’s the process.”
Brugger added there have been stories popping up suggesting the proposed municipal income tax changes included in the state budget will save businesses money and will save communities a lot of hassle.
In his dealings with other local government leaders, Brugger said, he hasn’t heard any local municipalities complaining about income tax work because “that’s what they do.”
“In the long run, this isn’t a good thing for the communities,” he added.